Whether your job requires you to be on your feet all day or sit at a desk, you can benefit from practicing yoga before heading to work…
These poses will help improve your alignment and clear your head so you can start your day feeling refreshed. They’re simple and don’t take more than 10 minutes, so let’s get into it.
Start With Deep Breaths
Begin by sitting cross-legged or on your heels, and rest your palms on your knees. Facing your palms up helps you receive energy while facing the palms down allows a more grounding feeling. Take a deep breath in through the nose, hold it at the top, and then let it go, breathing out the mouth. Take three breaths this way, then begin a steady breath in and out of the nose.
Move Into Table Top
Once you’ve taken a few deep breaths, find your way into table top. Hands go under the shoulders and knees align with your hips. Breath in and look up, arching your back. On the breath out, look down and push your back up to the sky. This is called cow and cat pose. Do three of these with your breath.
Downward Facing Dog
Place your hands just a few inches forward from where they are and push back into downward dog. Your head should hang between your arms, feet about shoulder distance apart and try to bring your heels as close to the ground as possible. Take a breath here.
Step Your Feet Forward Into Rag Doll Pose
Breathe out, look forward towards your hands, and step each foot behind your wrists. Feet shoulder distance apart, grab opposite elbows and gently rock side-to-side. Let your weight help you fold down as you bring your face closer to your shins.
Breathe in and lift halfway up so your legs and torso are at a 90-degree angle. Place your hands on your shins with a straight back. This warms up your spine and is a helpful pose for people who sit at a desk all day at work and may have a tendency to slouch.
Breathe out, and fold back down. Hang your head and arms heavy. Reach for the ground. You’ll want your legs straight, with just a micro-bend to protect your knees. Let your thoughts go and hang heavy.
Rise to Mountain Pose
Take a breath out, and then on your next inhale, slowly rise, one vertebra at a time. Reach your arms up and over your head, mountain pose. Relax the shoulders, relax the face, and ground down through your legs and heels.
Tilt to the Left and Right
Interlace your fingers with the two pointer fingers up like a steeple. On your next breath out, tilt to the left, sending the hips to the right. Breathe in, back to center. Then breathe out and tilt to the right, sending the hips to the left. Inhale back to center.
On your next exhale, push your hips forward and look up into a baby backbend. Start by placing your hands on the small of your back, very gently guiding them forward as you look up. If you feel comfortable enough, bring your arms up and bend your elbows into a cactus pose. Breathe in, back to center.
On your next exhale, place your palms together and gently fold, keeping a straight back while you following your hands to the floor. Head and arms hang heavy, feel the stretch in the back of your legs. Take a deep inhale, and a deep exhale.
Step Back Into Plank
After your exhale, step back one foot at a time into plank. Keep your arms straight, wrists below your shoulders and core engaged, staying strong. Take a few breaths here, now that your spine is warmed up.
Feeling good? Almost done!
Lower Halfway, Then Upward Facing Dog
On the next exhale, keep your elbows tucked in and lower halfway to the ground, keeping your core engaged. Then inhale, drop your knees and thighs to the ground and look up into upward facing down. The tops of your feet should press into the mat and shoulders are relaxed.
Now push back into your final downward dog, and exhale the energy you’ve created. You’ve just moved through your chaturanga, a basic flow of yoga that you will practice a lot if you take a class. And for your last move…
Drop down to your knees, let them spread out mat distance apart and stretch your arms forward, head down. Child’s pose. Breathe and feel the stretch through your back and neck as you sit back on your heels. You can also lay your arms by your sides if that’s more comfortable.
That simple flow gets the air moving through your lungs and body at the beginning of your day. Now for a few poses to help you relax when your day is over.
Ideal for nurses and other jobs that require you to be on your feet all day, legs up (or up the wall) relieves your tired feet by sending the blood flow the opposite way. Keep your neck straight and lift your legs up above your head. Use your hands to support your lower back.
Pigeon pose helps work out the lactic acid that builds in the back of the legs and can also loosen up the hips. This is where we carry our stress and tension the most! You can start and downward dog, and step one leg through into the shape of a 7. Breathe in and square off your hips. Breathe out and fold forward. Repeat on the other side.
This pose feels great in the mid and lower back. Lay on your back and pull your right knee up towards the outer side of your rib cage, then twist and bring it across your body, to the left. Place one hand on your knee and lay your right arm stretched out, look to the right. Repeat on the other side.
Hug Your Knees to Your Chest
To help balance out after twisting bring your knees to your chest. Rock side to side, or in gentle circles, massaging the lower back. Lift your forehead up to your knees. Take the biggest inhale that you’ve done all day.
After your deep inhale, let it all go in a deep exhale and stretch out on your mat, Shavasana. This is a meditative pose to end your practice and help calm the mind. Anything that pops into your head reminding you of your to-do list, acknowledge it, and let it go. Stay here for as long as you need.
Guide yourself through these poses to help manage stress and let go of thoughts that distract you from the present moment. At the beginning of the day, it’s helpful to stretch your muscles and rid of the fuzz that formed around them while you were sleeping, and at the end of the day, it’s ideal to clear your mind and let your body settle into rest.